reflective practice

Teachers at the Center: A Memoir of the Early Years of the National Writing Project

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Author: James Gray

Summary: In 1974, Jim Gray and his colleagues convened a group of teachers for the first summer institute of the Bay Area Writing Project at UC Berkeley—the first writing project site in the country. In the over four decades since, Gray’s then radically new vision of professional development for teachers, and his inspired work establishing what became the National Writing Project model in sites around the country, generated a national network that has served more than two million teachers. In this chapter from his candid memoir, he looks back on the early years, describing the mentors who influenced his thinking, the mistakes he made and strategies he used to refine the model, and the difficulties overcome to gain widespread support for the project. A key reading for NWP teacher leaders, this engaging and thoughtful narrative will also be of interest to anyone concerned about education, literacy, and teacher professional development.

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